There are very few pieces that transcend the idea of fashion like a petite boucle jacket. A pair of blue jeans, a trench or a single white shirt is amongst them. And there’s the jacket, reinvented in different colours, often with contrasting trims and worn in a myriad of ways. More than 80 years since Coco Chanel made the first one, it’s still one of the most recognisable items in the world.
The appeal of a tweed jacket is a very simple one- beauty combined with wearability. Some clothes look great on social media photos but when everything is said and done, these are often not pieces we can wear out and about. But the jacket- oh yes, you will! Throw it over a simple t-shirt and jeans to run errands, with a silk shirt and a pile of necklaces for a cocktail with girls or wear it with a dress and heels for an evening out. It’s this one item that will work the hardest in your wardrobe- it can be worn even on summer evenings in the Northern hemisphere, casually thrown over a t-shirt and denim cut-offs. A tweed jacket is like a chameleon, satisfying even the most newness thirsty fashionistas - paired with jeans, skirts, shirts, even leggings, it provides a myriad of combinations that never get old.
I have to admit, I love a good tweed jacket. I love how they look- elegant yet nonchalant in that very Parisian way where you contrast elegance with casualness for a “just threw it on” cool effect. One of my favourite pairings is a little tweed jacket with a silk shirt or cashmere top and a pile of necklaces and a pair of beat-up jeans and motorcycle boots to contrast the elegance of the top half.
When I was a practising lawyer and regularly appeared in court, I desperately wanted and needed a good tweed suit. Something with a neck-high enough to put a t-shirt under my jacket without anyone knowing. I wanted little pockets for locker keys, small change and an occasional pen. I didn’t want to have to iron a shirt the day before a court hearing (and mornings would often mean 6 am starts). I wanted a jacket that I could put in my suitcase and take it out in the advocate's room, looking box fresh. A jacket that was made from wool with a natural lining because there were plenty of moments in the courtroom to make me sweat.
When I started Sascha & The Boys, I just knew that I had to make the perfect jacket. I did not doubt that I would make a piece that was not only easy to wear but something that clients would want to wear all the time. We started fitting- … and fitting… and fitting… and whilst we fine-tuned the fit, length, placement of pockets or neckline, I was unhappy with the sleeve.
I wanted a Chanel level sleeve. A sleeve that is slim and streamlined, sharp and neat. I’m obsessed with fit and I can see immediately when a piece of clothing has even the slightest hint of frump. I cannot stand frumpy. And so we had to redo the sleeve over and over again until one day I knew that we’d arrived at perfection.
Covid pandemic and gazillion meetings on zoom, court hearing on Teams and legal visits via video link meant that I got to test our Annabel tweed jacket many times over. The morning commute from the bedroom to the living room meant I could sleep longer and get ready for meetings in less than a minute. My daily uniform of cashmere sweatpants and white t-shirt was complete with our tweed jacket, buttoned up so no one saw my wrinkled t-shirt underneath. A little bronzer, red lipstick, pearl studs and I was ready for the day.
The popularity of a boucle jacket means that it can be accessible at every price point - from a vintage Chanel retailing at 14k on the Fartetch website) to the current collection at about €7,000 to about £60 at Zara on Mango. With so many options available- what to look for in a jacket? Two things- fit and fabric.
When it comes to fit, there can be a very thin line between sharp and frumpy- sometimes it’s only about an inch between them. When you try the jacket on, make sure that the shoulder line corresponds with your natural shoulder width (unless you’re deliberately buying an oversized jacket). There shouldn’t be any pulling, wrinkling or stress on a fabric. Look for clean lines that enhance the natural form of your body (our jacket is constructed from several panels to ensure the most flattering fit.)
A sharp, neat sleeve will make a huge difference in the appearance of the jacket. The sleeve should be as slim as possible without sacrificing your range of motion. You’ll see it often in less meticulously fitted jackets- lumpy sleeves with too much fabric at the back, where the sleeve meets the seam. Look closely at the sleeves of a Chanel jacket and you will see it- sharp, neat, slim lines. This is what you’re going for.
The other factor to pay attention to is the fabric. If you can, try and avoid 100% polyester fabric with 100% polyester lining. You will feel like you’re wearing a plastic bottle because polyester doesn’t breathe (it’s made from the same components as a plastic bottle.) It will cause you to sweat but polyester doesn’t absorb moisture…well, you can imagine for yourself!
It’s often difficult to find a boucle jacket made from 100% natural fabric without a Chanel price tag. Always check the composition- brands legally have to disclose it on tags attached inside the garment and on their website. If the website says the fabric is tweed and doesn't say anything else, you can be sure that the piece is made from 100% polyester. After all, if it was 100% wool, the brand would shout about it from the rooftops. Ideally, look for something with 20% or less polyester (or acrylic) and with natural lining such as viscose or cupro.
When I designed our Annabel jacket, I knew that it had to be made from natural fabric. I bought beautiful wool from Italy and lined the jacket with viscose. Our clothes have to be our trusted allies- they have to fit and flatter and "cover or backs" instead of embarrassing us.
Our Annabel tweed jacket for Petites was a long time in the making. In addition to working on fit and the sleeve, and looking for beautiful, natural fabrics, I looked for buttons that I wanted on every pocket and on the sleeves. Often, in our busy, chaotic day to day lives, we don’t have time to think too much about our clothes when we’re rushing to the office, doing school runs and running errands- and because of that, I wanted gold buttons that would feel dressy enough to allow you to skip jewellery. I wanted a piece that would elevate in an instant the simplest t-shirt and jeans combination.
Last but not least- I made our tweed jacket with petite bodies in mind. Not so petite people tend to think that we can just get a smaller size but this is just not the case. Not all Petites are size XXS- we have normal bodies with curves, just smaller than everyone else. There are so many measurements to think of- shorter torso, higher underarm cut, less across the back, shorter sleeves- these are but a few factors to think of. And think we did. We also constructed our tweed jacket from several panels to ensure the most flattering fit.
It’s been a long process but I couldn’t be happier with the finished product. It’s a showstopper yet a wearable and versatile piece- and it feels as comfortable as a cardigan.
Designer at Sascha & The Boys